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Seneca John Title
Seneca Tribe HistoryIndian-White RelationsLife and LiveliehoodDeath of Seneca JohnSeneca John's Death-Another View Dismissal of Coonstick's CaseSeneca John's Grave MarkerSeneca John Suggested Reading
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Seneca John's Execution

Another View of
Seneca John's Death

David Higgins, Judge of the Second Judicial Circuit of Ohio beginning in 1830, related the following:

"During the session of the Supreme Court at Fremont, in the the year 1822, (I may be mistaken in the year), some person in Fremont (then Lower Sandusky) instituted a complaint before a Justice of Peace against the head chief of the Senecas for murder, and he was arrested and brought before the Justice, accompanied by a number of the principal men of his tribe. The incidents upon which this proceeding was founded are very interesting as illustrating the Indian life and character. With this head chief (who, among the Americans passed by the appellation of Coonstick) I was somewhat acquainted. He was a noble speciman of a man, a fine form, dignified in manner, and evincing much good sense in conversation and conduct. Some two years before this time, in prospect of his tribe removing to the west of the Mississippi, Coonstick had traveled to the West, and had been absent a year and a half in making his explorations. The chief had a brother who was a very bad Indian, and during the absence of the chief, had made much disturbance among the tribe; and among other crimes, he was charged with intriguing with a medicine woman and inducing her to administer drugs to an Indian to whom he was inimical, which caused his death. When the chief returned home, he held a council of his head men, to try his bad brother; and, upon full investigation, he was condemned to be executed. The performance of that sad act devolved upon the head chief-and Coonstick was required to execute his brother. The time fixed for the execution was the next morning. Accordingly, on the next morning, Coonstick, accompanied by several of his head men, went to the shanty where the criminal lived. He was sitting on a bench before his shanty. The party hailed him, and he approached them, and wrapping his blanket over his head, dropped on his knees before the executing party. Immediately Coonstick, raising his tomahawk, buried it in the brains of the criminal, who instantly expired. These facts being presented to the Supreme Court, they decided that the execution of the criminal was an act completely within the jurisdiction of the chief, and that Coonstick was justified in the execution of a judicial sentence, of which he was the proper person to carry into effect. The case was dismissed and Coonstick discharged."

(Excerpted from: History of the Maumee Valley Commencing With Its Occupation by the French in 1680, by H. S. Knapp, published in 1877)

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